Radiology Question for the Week of January 14, 2019


What is the correct way to bill 76881 when imaging bilateral hands and feet? We get denials when we bill it in units. When we bill it as 76881-RT, 76881-LT, 76881-59-RT, 76881-59-LT, we get a denial for frequency. I researched and found that we can bill up to four times in one encounter. Is the coding correct, has the frequency changed?


We question whether 76881 would be appropriate at all for bilateral hands and feet. This code is intended to be used for a complete evaluation of a single joint, not multiple joints in the hands and/or feet.

Medicare has a medically unlikely edit (MUE) of 2 for 76881, and the MAI (medically unlikely edit [MUE] adjudication indicator) is 3, which means that the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) may override it if medical necessity is proven, but it may not be billed bilaterally.

If you are doing an arthritis survey of the hands and feet, unlisted code 76999 might be more appropriate.

This question was answered in an edition of our Radiology Compliance Manager. For more hot topics relating to radiology services, please visit our store or call us at 1.800.252.1578, ext. 2.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

CPT® copyright 2022 American Medical Association (AMA). All rights reserved.

Fee schedules, relative value units, conversion factors and/or related components are not assigned by the AMA, are not part of CPT, and the AMA is not recommending their use. The AMA does not directly or indirectly practice medicine or dispense medical services. The AMA assumes no liability for data contained or not contained herein.

CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association.